September 10th, 2013 |
A Day In The Council Chamber
So, today the planning inspector Mr David Smith looked at the various proposals for “West of Rayleigh”. Here’s a summary of the key points.
- Mrs Linda Kendall spoke on behalf of the objectors, made some determined points, and with a lot of concerned residents in the council chamber, was applauded quite a lot of times. She was assisted by Peter Scott.
- Mark Francois MP spoke in the afternoon, and got a round of applause as well.
- Mr Sam Hollingworth was the speaker on behalf of the District Council.
- Other speakers included an officer from Basildon Council, an officer from County Highways, two planning agents on behalf of the developers Countryside (who control the “North of London Road” site), and notably, a representative of Sport England.
- The feeling in the public gallery was that Mr Smith conducted things fairly.
- He said he was there to test the ‘soundness’ (there’s a special planning definition for this) of the proposals and if they were legally compliant.
- During the discussions the proposal to relocate the businesses on Rawreth Industrial Estate began to look pretty shaky.
- The planning agents for Countrywide queried whether any homebuilding at the Industrial Estate would actually happen, there appeared to be no promoter for the site, and it would need compulsory purchase which didn’t seem likely without a promoter.
- They also claimed that the density of homes proposed for the Industrial Estate site for the site was probably too high to be viable
- When the subject changed to the site of the 550 homes, the planning agents said it would take about 5 years to build and sell them.
- When the planning agents stated that the drainage system installed would be designed to ensure that the speed of water leaving the site would be no greater or actually less than the current speed. This was greeted with some scepticism by the public listening.
- The planning agents think that the ‘green buffer’ could extend from the 550 houses up to the A1245, but if it was that large some of it would be agricultural land rather than park land.
- Up till now it’s been proposed that most of the traffic from the 550 would go onto London Road, with less going onto Rawreth Lane. But it was agreed that this would be looked at again at the detailed highways design stage.
- Peter Scott argued that the traffic survey results used by the council were either too old, or didn’t cover the right locations.
- The chap from Sport England had quite a few concerns about relocating the Rayleigh Sports and Social Club. He wanted detailed wording included to ensure that the new facilities were at least as good as what was currently there, and there should be a proper new lease offered to the club. Not some kind of short-term rental.He warned that in terms of phasing it would take 18 months to get new pitches ready. And he wanted flexibility in the wording to leave open the possibility of the club staying exactly where it is.
- Mrs Kendall pointed out that where they wanted to put the new pitches, there used to be a lot of ponds , where there are ponds there is water.
- In her most scathing comment of the day Mrs Kendall said that the Core Strategy already approved was like “Noddy and Big Ears”. If the Rawreth Industrial Estate was left alone, she said, there would not be a need for the new employment/ industrial sites south of London Road and at Michelins Farm.
- One surprising statement from the District Council’s Mr Hollingworth was that the employment site might not be needed , office space might become available in Rayleigh, and Hockley Town Centres. He said the employment site on London Road was a long-term aim, there was a lack of interest from the owners.
- When the discussion moved to the traveller site Mrs Kendall said the decision was a political one and racist – the site wouldn’t be suitable for habitation so close to industry, traffic , etc.
- Mr Hollingworth said this would be a planned scheme [as opposed to something that happened accidently without a proper design] and mitigation could be put in place.
- The officer from Basildon council explained that they still objected , they didn’t think this site was the most suitable one for this sort of development. He also said that since Rochford District Coucnil had come up with this proposal, Basildon had given permission on the land next door for a construction workers training school. Part of the training would include practice earth moving operations any time from 7 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday.
- It was agreed by everyone, including Rochford District and Mark Francois that putting a new traveller site on London Road was unacceptable and not viable – apart from anything else, there would be electricity pylons and flooding issue to prevent it.
- Mrs Kendall supported allowing the unauthorised traveller site on the A1245 to become legal and queried why we had to have all the travellers in West Rayleigh
- Mr Hollingworth answered that there were actually 6 other [small] sites already in the district.